Freedom Project offers prison programming on Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and mindfulness in five state prisons throughout Washington State. Volunteers provide regular programming at Twin Rivers Unit (TRU) at Monroe Correctional Complex, Airway Heights Corrections Center (AHCC, in Spokane), and Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC). Freedom Project also holds occasional programming at Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW, in Gig Harbor), Benton County Jail (BCJ) in Kennewick, WA, Coyote Ridge Corrections Center (CRCC) in Connell, WA and the Washington State Reformatory (WSR) unit at Monroe Correctional Complex. Class sizes range from 15 to 25 participants, with workshops hosting as many as 30 individuals.
Freedom Project’s Basic Introduction to NVC is currently offered in three Washington state prisons, including the Twin Rivers Unit in Monroe, Airway Heights Correctional Complex, and Clallam Bay Correctional Complex. Over the course of a comprehensive 15-week class, facilitators (both inside mentors and outside volunteers) provide the basic framework of Nonviolent Communication. Program participants explore how to express themselves authentically and to listen empathically through role-playing and carefully developed hands-on exercises.
Advanced NVC classes vary by facility. Recent offerings include the NVC Practice Group (Twin Rivers Unit in Monroe), NVC Immersion & Integration (Twin Rivers Unit in Monroe), and NVC Integration (Clallam Bay). These classes explore the application and integration of Nonviolent Communication tools and strategies in every day life, in addition to cultivating a deeper sense of connection and community between peers, Mentors/inside facilitators, and outside facilitators.
Mindfulness classes are offered at the Twin Rivers Unit at Monroe, where participants and facilitators explore meditation and mindfulness through the Path of Freedom – a mindfulness curriculum by Fleet Maull and Kate Crisp, specifically designed for those in prison.
Workshops are provided monthly at the Twin Rivers Unit in Monroe and occasionally at the Washington Corrections Center for Women and Mission Creek Corrections Center. These program offerings can range in topics, such as Basic NVC Workshops, Family Workshops (where prisoners have the chance to learn and practice with a family member), and Themed NVC Workshops that focus on a particular topic (such as anger, empathy, self-empathy, conflict resolution, etc).
The Mentor Program at the Twin Rivers Unit in Monroe is a program designed for and by program participants (Mentors) who seek to grow and learn the principles of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and mindfulness in their daily living.
Mentors are an important element of our program, as they help change the prison’s conditions of disconnection by embodying NVC principles and serving as a resource for others who want to know about Freedom Project. They provide mentorship to one another, class participants, and fellow prisoners in the facility.
The Mentor team engages with outside facilitators during bi-monthly debriefing and planning sessions for classes and workshops. Importantly, Mentors contribute greatly to the quality and depth of Freedom Project training through personal sharing and providing relevant illustrations of major concepts. Mentors may also serve as inside facilitators for classes and workshops – presenting class material, implementing activities, and facilitating small groups.
The Clallam Bay volunteer team is currently exploring and developing a Mentor Program for Freedom Project program participants at the Clallam Bay facility.